There are a lot of different ways to make chili. Some people like it with beef and beans, some just with one or the other. Some like it with big chunks of meat, while others prefer to go vegetarian.
But no matter how you make it, there are some common mistakes you need to avoid. Some people have learned about these mistakes the hard way – they didn’t do it right and their chili just didn’t have the taste it should have.
Mistake 1 – Not browning the meat first.
Browning is very important. First, it brings out the taste of the meat so that it makes its way throughout the chili has you cook it. Second, it gives the meat a nice roasted look, rather than the pale color you get when you just throw raw chunks of it into the chili mix. So, whether you are using diced or ground meat, make sure to brown it first.
Mistake 2 – Throwing the vegetables in raw.
Just as with the meat, you need to sauté the veggies a little too before you throw them into the chili. This helps to get the most flavor out of them.
Mistake 3 – Using a premixed chili powder and adding spices just before serving.
The problem with chili powder is not what’s in it, but that fact that it’s all mixed together in powder form. You want to use all of the spices that are in chili powder – garlic, cumin, ancho chili, but not the powder version. For example, use fresh cloves of garlic and real cumin seeds that you toast and grind yourself. This will make the flavor so much better and richer.
And when you add your spices, such as those jalapenos or other hot peppers you like, don’t wait until the end to put them in. Put them in right away because the heat will help to draw out the flavor for that deep, rich, spicy (and hot) taste.
Mistake 4 – Making it fast.
Chili is meant for slow cooking. You need to let it simmer. In fact, many cooks recommend making it the day before and letting it spend the night in the refrigerator. The long, slow cooking again helps to mix all those flavors together for a richer taste.
Whether you prefer it hot or mile, if you love chili, make sure you visit a Mattito’s near you soon (and be sure to tell your server how hot – or not – you like it).
Image courtesy FiveRings at English Wikipedia [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.